HR in a construction company

Hello All,

I work for a construction company since 2 years, although it is a 30 yrs old company, I struggle to be recogonised as the only HR  here. I have completed my CIPD level 5 in June. 

Now, with the help of my course and from the available wealth of information at CIPD,  I would like to make some difference at my work.

Can someone help me by giving the right guidance on how and where to start please?

I would like to write few lines on what I do....

Issuing offer letter, contracts, reviewing Handbooks,  doing appraisals etc but these are set standards which are used since years . I have nothing to do in these, as they are set formats where i just change personal info. I would like to do real HR stuff,getting involved in employee relations, strategic management , knowing the business needs and helping to retain and recruit suitable talent etc. But, the management does not involve me in any of these, I just do the admin work if you know what I mean..

Is there something that i can do here and make some changes? bring in new ideas?

Please advise.

Thank you.

  • Hi Nisha
    I'm not sure there much, anyone from outside your company can tell how to make a difference. That is really up to you - to find out what your company is doing and how you can introduce or recommend some better way of doing it.

    But do not bring in ideas just because they are new - People need to be convinced they are going to be better than their existing ideas.

    So just keep looking and listening whilst you learn how your company works and does things - then start looking at improvements you can make or recommend.

  • Start small and find a problem they have that they want solving. You may need to solve lots of small things first slowly building your reputation and influence . .
  • In reply to Keith:

    Hi Keith,

    Thank you for your reply.
    I have started that, but becuase they think they need an HR. I am not listened at all. The board does not have time for HR. Whenever i say i need to have a meeting for HR related issues. They either delay or cancel the meetings ( saying they are very busy and would talk some other time)
  • In reply to Nisha :

    Sorry its because "they think they dont need an Hr"
  • In reply to Nisha :

    Then dont say you need a meeting on HR issues!

    Find out what their problems are. Have a meeting to fix something they need not something you need. Couch it in their language. Its as much about how you approach things as about what you do.

    Pick one or two key influences, what is keeping them awake at night? What challenges are they facing? How can you use your skills and Hr knowledge to help solve or lessen some of these?
  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    21 Oct, 2019 08:18

    In reply to Keith:

    I agree with Keith's excellent suggestion of approach, Nisha.

    I do understand where you are coming from though and others have asked similar questions in the past, including from the construction industry. I'll try to fish out some previous discussions if they haven't been archived.

    Incidentally, how long has there been an HR post at your company? Are the employees unionised?

    Welcome to the Community.
  • In reply to David Perry:

    Hi David,

    Thank you so much for your advise. I totally agree with you. Trying my best to be a part of the team as much as I can.

    It just becomes hard when you feel you are ignored.

    But, I will not give up and take this as a challenge.

    Thank you once again.
  • In reply to Steve Bridger:

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you for a warm welcome!
    I am feeling great being a part of this community.

    I attended a CIPD conference few months ago and heard that most of the construction company think the same way. So one thing I am sure is that "Its not going to be easy" but I am ready for it.
    I will do everything it takes to be recognised and valued for what I do.

    There was no HR post in the company until Oct 2017. I am the one employed since 2017 before the office manager used to so all the mandatory HR work (Offer letter, contracts etc). One more thing that I need to bring it to attention is that the company has grown rapidly in the past 5 yrs seeing more people and hunting talent.
    There are two main stream of work, one is the construction (M&E ) side and the other is maintenance side( Housing maintenance). There is a slight gap here which needs help. (communication and bonding)

    I have lack of confidence and also think that my writing skills are not that great. Do you think I should probably start from there? if yes, then how?

    Thank you.
  • In reply to Nisha :

    You have been there two years now. Write down what you think are the 3-5 biggest challenges the business faces (not necessarily people or HR).

    What are the people dimensions of these challenges?

    Can you think of one simple straight forward thing (not a policy/procedure/plan or grand thing) that you can do to help move each of these issues forward?

    The difficulty with the gap between M&E and Maintenance is that possibly no one sees it as a problem other than you. No one is that bothered.

    Many people in that environment are very practical grounded people who aren't swayed by "best practice" or the CIPD says..... but want to solve problems and fix challenges. Put yourself in their mindset.
  • I can tell you that it's not just in the construction industry that HR encounters such attitudes. I work in insurance and it's apparent there too!
    I agree wholeheartedly with Keith's approach... because that's what I had to do to get recognised and respected as a valuable member of our management team. Often HR has to show (rather than tell) how it can make a difference and unfortunately this will take time. But you'll definitely get there Nisha!
  • HI Nisha
    My first job in HR was a bit like that, Management wanted HR but didn't really know what it was. My first few months I didn't really know what I was to do so I held meetings with each manager to find out what issues they were having. On the back of that I realised there was issues with absence management and recruitment, so these were the areas I focused on. I introduced RTW interviews, kept a spread sheet of each departments absences and each month forwarded that to the line manager so they could see who the repeat offenders of Mondayitis were. I also started detailing a monthly report and sending this to my line manager as well as the MD. I would detail what I was working on, what I thought I should focus on as well as staff turnover, absence rates.
    I also worked away updating policies and informing staff of the policies as they were not communicated to staff.
    I also took it upon myself to look after training records and working with managers to see who needed training etc and I would source the training and do follow up meetings after the training to see how it had benefited the employee and how it was helping them in their day to day role. Again all this I detailed on my report. I would also add in local employment law cases esp ones where the local company had lost and had to pay out a fine or compensation, this was done to show them what would happen if they didn't follow procedure or adhere to legislation

    Eventually it worked and they came to see me as valuable to the management team and involved me in the more important meetings.
    You need to show the managers what you are capable of and how you can benefit their departments.
    Good luck
  • Hi Nisha,

    I am a sole HR administrator in a construction company as well.

    I am lucky in the fact that the company recognises that they need HR and utilise me a lot (although sometimes it's because they think HR should do it, even if not always the case!)

    However, I had a discussion this morning in regards to how we engage with staff and we how pass information on to them. I came up with ideas about going to sites etc but I was informed that the staff are 'volatile' and this would upset them. When I questioned why the staff where volatile I was told that's the way the industry is - which is one of the most commonly used phrases I have heard.

    It can be difficult to change peoples mindsets. I have manged to win over one of the managers from our landscaping division and he has agreed we need to think of ways to change the culture.
    I have already won over the property division who already engage with staff more than they used to.
    It took perseverance but I started by winning them over one by one. I would put together ideas and send them to the relevant people (they were not always HR related, but they start to recognise you than more than just a 'paper pusher').

    I suggest that you put your ideas together and try and introduce them one by one. Management also love money savings and increased productivity so try and work these into your ideas and presentations.
    I created reports showing the trends in staff and salaries etc. I made them basic and too the point and they have gone down well with the management team.

    You need to show them that HR is more than contracts and polices but there is more involved. Don't give up hope! the culture can change.
  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    25 Oct, 2019 08:04

    In reply to Maisie:

    Thanks very much for sharing your experience, Maisie... and welcome to the Community :)
  • In reply to Maisie:

    Excellent explanation Maisie - and welcome to the community.
  • Hello Nisha
    I joined a scaffolding company nearly 3 months ago, I am their first HR manager. The company does recognise it needs an HR presence as it is expanding rapidly, so my experience is slightly different but, I have started with looking at attendance and have have looked in detail at individual employees and why they have been off.
    I have also done some training for managers on managing sickness absence and as others have said introduced the concept of the return to work interview. I have also referred individuals to an Occupational health service which has been beneficial to those individuals.
    being supportive in the attendance review meeting as enable me to build a rapport with the individuals who have problems.
    I have also been working closely with the Company Health and Safety manager and together we are highlighting the H&S risks but also the HR risks to the board. So for the first time the company has a risk register that is visible to the Board.
    I am also taking time to get to know the Board Directors and the managers, supervisors and team leaders in the company to see what their issues are.
    I would try and get the support of a manager who can guide you through to help understand what the Board sees as important..